Return to work after shoulder rottor cuff surgery

by MS. W.
(USA)

I HAVE HAD SHOULDER PAIN FOR OVER 8 YEARS AFTER A JOB INJURY (HAVE HAD MANY INJECTIONS, PHYSICAL THERAPIES ,ETC ). SURGERY WAS LAST WEEK WITH REPAIR OF TWO ROTATOR CUFF TEARS AND SPUR REPAIR. THE DOCTOR SAID BEFORE THE SURBERY THAT I'D PROBABLY BE OFF FROM WORK FOR 4-6 WEEKS BUT THAT IF HE FOUND A TEAR HE'D KEEP ME OFF FROM WORK FOR 6 WEEKS. I ESTIMATED MY TIME NEEDED TO BE APP. 5 WEEKS. A SUPERVISOR FROM WORK CALLED THE DOCTORS OFFICE AND APPARENTLY QUESTIONED THE TIME, STATING THE SURGERY WAS TO BE ON MY NONDOMINATE ARM. NOW THAT THE SURGERY HAS BEEN PERORMED, THE DOCTOR HAS ESTIMATED RETURN TO WORK ONLY 2 WEEKS AFTER THE SURGERY, SAYING I'LL HAVE TO JUSTIFY LONGER WITH MY EMPLOYER. (NOT THAT I DON'T REQUIRE THE TIME). I DON'T UNDERSTAND THIS AS I WAS INITIALLY TOLD THAT IF A TEAR WERE FOUND I'D NEED 6 WEEKS, AND NOW THAT NOT ONE BUT TWO TEARS HAVE BEEN FOUND, ONLY 2 WEEK ARE REQUESTED. BASED ON HOW I'M FEELLING, I DON'T THINK 2 WEEKS WILL BE ENOUGH AND I HAVE MAJOR CONCERN ABOUT REINJURING THE AREA DUE TO IMPROPER TIME FOR HEALING. HAD I KNOWN BERORE THE SURGERY THAT I'D ONLY HAVE 2 WEEKS, I WOULD NOT HAVE SCHEDULED IT AT THIS TIME - I FEEL THE RULES HAVE BEEN CHANGED AFTER THE GAME STARTED. I AM AN EDUCATOR WHO IS NOT BASED IN ONE AREA ALL DAY, BUT TRAVEL A LARGE CAMPUS CARRYING SUPPLIES, ETC. NEEDED FOR EACH LOCATION. THE PHYSICAL THERAPIST HAS SAID TO CONSIDER THE AFFECTED ARM AS NONEXISTENT AND TO NOT USE IT AT ALL (A SLING IS NEEDED OR 6 WEEKS). I FEEL WORKING ALL DAY SO SOON AFTER THE SURGERY WITH THE ONE ARM DOING EVERYTHING IS NOT MEDICALLY SOUND. I'M STILL ON PAIN MEICATION WHICH MAKES ME SLEEPY AS WELL. I'M NOT SAYING I WILL NEED A FULL 6 WEEKS, BUT I FEEL 2 WEEKS WILL NOT BE ENOUGH. PLEASE COMMENT AND ADVISE. THANK YOU. MS. W.

Comments for Return to work after shoulder rottor cuff surgery

Average Rating starstarstarstarstar

Click here to add your own comments

May 15, 2008
Why the sudden change?
by: Bart - SII

It seems odd that your surgeon has suddenly changed his time frame regarding when you should return to work. Putting a time frame on something like that is not really a good idea in my opinion. Usually surgeons are much more likely to be very conservative in their estimate for returning to work.

The things that should determine when you return to work are numerous. First and foremost is the safety of preserving the surgical repair. For rotator cuff repairs it is important to maintain immobilization and not us the arm actively. So the advice from your PT is correct. You shouldn't be actively moving the arm as this can place stress on the repaired tendons.

Second, if you are still taking your pain medications, this can be a problem if you are required to drive, operate machinery, or if you need to have all of your wits about you during your job. The fact that 2 weeks out from surgery you may still have significant pain is another consideration.

Third, excessive activity can aggravate and increase your pain and surrounding muscle spasm, which could slow your recovery.

While it is not unheard of returning to work at 2 weeks after this type of surgery, I would say it is probably faster than the norm. I would recommend talking with your physician about all of your concerns and asking him to relay them to your employer. It is in your surgeons best interest to protect your shoulder and his surgical procedure.

In addition, I would discuss in detail your concerns with your employer, expressing your work requirements and the fact that you do not feel comfortable with returning so soon.

You may not need the full 5 weeks, but it is better to have a choice and return when you feel ready than to rush things and possibly slow your recovery.

Hope this helps - feel free to comment back if you have other questions.

Apr 06, 2014
Rotator cuff surgery return to work time. NEW
by: anthony foss

I had Rotator cuff surgery 03/20/2014 and i can't sleep at nights at all, i stay awake until 8am ish then fall asleep until about 4pm. It is outrageous to return to work until your pain is gone and you have normal sleeping patterns along with that the pain medication which is needed makes me less than adequate meaning i could get hurt at work until completely healed mentally and physically. Doctor's like you to return to work so early to make themselves look good, in other words looking for more business. That's my opinion and i come to that conclusion because i, we are the ones who are injured we know how we feel, put yourself in our shoes and we are all different.

Click here to add your own comments

Return to Sports Injury Answers - Shoulder.